The 30th anniversary of The Terminator is upon us. The sci-fi movie that launched James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger into super stardom changed the face of the genre and kick-started a franchise that is almost as strong today — with the upcoming release of Terminator: Genisys (oh, that title) — as it was back in 1984. Here are e fascinating facts about the original Terminator.
1. Sprained Ankle
Just before shooting The Terminator in March 1984, Linda Hamilton sprained her ankle. Producers had to re-schedule all her running and action scene until later in the production schedule to give her ankle time to heal. Despite the delays, you can still watch Linda Hamilton running with a slight limp during her action scenes in the latter half of the movie.
2. James Cameron’s Cameo
James Cameron makes an off-screen voice cameo in almost all of his movies, including The Terminator. He’s the voice of the person on the answering machine breaking his date with Sarah Connor at the beginning of the film and the voice of the motel clerk at the end.
Fun fact: James Cameron and Linda Hamilton dated after making Terminator 2: Judgment Day and eventually got married. They got divorced two years after they wed. So the answering machine message was also a glimpse into the future.
3. James Cameron Wanted Arnold to Play Kyle Reese
Originally, the T-800 was conceived as an every man who was able to blend in with big crowds of people, so before meeting each other James Cameron wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the role of Kyle Reese, the hero. But after meeting, it was clear that Schwarzenegger had to play The Terminator, namely because he’s larger than life with a great on-screen presence, but he also had very limited acting range at the time. Arnold Schwarzenegger could do wonders with a mostly silent, but haunting and menacing presence like the T-800.
Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Sting were also considered for the role of Kyle Reese, but it eventually went to Michael Biehn.
James Cameron’s German Shepard Wolfie can be seen during the Tiki Motel scene and in the jeep with Sarah Connor at the end of the film. Wolfie was also namedropped during Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
5. The Electronic Murderer
When The Terminator was released in Poland during the late 80s, it was re-titled to The Electronic Murderer. The word “terminator” roughly translates to “apprentice” in Polish, so it had to change to effectively capture the film’s tone. The Electronic Murderer doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Terminator.
6. O.J. Simpson
Believe it or not, but O.J. Simpson was once consider for the role of The Terminator. Simpson retired from football in the late 70s, but started a pretty successful acting and spokesman career in the early 70s — appearing in Roots and the movies The Towering Inferno and Capricorn One. The studio suggested to James Cameron that O.J. Simpson could play the Terminator, but the young director felt that the audience wouldn’t believe him as a killer. Cut to 1994 and O.J. Simpson was on trial for the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Do you think “The Juice” could play the Terminator now?
7. Heroes and Villains
The T-800 is the only character that appears on American Film Institute’s 100 Heroes and Villains as a hero and villain – The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, respectively. Before the sequel went into production, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t convinced that audiences would accept the T-800 as a hero after he was the villain in the original film. However, after a re-write from James Cameron and William Wisher, Jr., Schwarzenegger was convinced that the T-800 could be a good guy and father figure.
8. Harlan Ellison
Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison claimed that James Cameron completely ripped-off the idea of The Terminator on an episode of The Outer Limits that he wrote called “Soldier” — adapted from Ellison’s 1957 short story “Soldier From Tomorrow.” Ellison heard rumblings that The Terminator was taken from his story while the movie was in production in 1984. In fact, he demanded reading the script, but the production company responsible for The Terminator, Hemdale Pictures, denied his requests.
Here’s the kicker: Harlan Ellison claimed that a source at Starlog Magazine contacted him about an interview the publication did with James Cameron. The claim cites that Cameron requested Starlog remove one of his quotes about taking the idea for The Terminator from a handful of episodes of The Outer Limits, that also include “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” and “The Demon With a Glass Hand.”
James Cameron denies any wrongdoing, “[I] had no choice but to agree with the settlement. Of course there was a gag order as well, so I couldn’t tell this story, but now I frankly don’t care. It’s the truth. Harlan Ellison is a parasite who can kiss my ass.”
Warren Ellison took his grievances to Orion Pictures who settled the case out of court for upwards of $65,000 and an acknowledgement at the end of The Terminator. Did James Cameron rip-off Harlan Ellison? You be the judge.